Hallowed Hall

Unlike some other artistic directors in Actors' Equity houses, Hall prefers to hire local talent, "provided they're good and fit the part." He happily notes that more and more gifted performers are relocating here from New York ("you can't live there A it's awful") and hopes the pool continues to grow. In addition to guiding home-grown casts and supporting new works, Hall hopes to add a conservatory and an apprenticeship program. "It would be easy for us, filling up as we do, to just stay put," says the man whose theater sells 80 percent of its tickets by subscription before the box office even opens to the public, "but we can't because the theater's got to grow. Theater is only going to survive if people like us keep it alive."

Further south, the other state theater in South Florida, The Coconut Grove Playhouse, inaugurates its newly renamed Mainstage (now formally the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Theatre) with that risk-less, evergreen form of entertainment A the sex farce. This offering, Don't Dress for Dinner, has been adapted into English by Robin Hawdon from the huge French hit by Marc Camoletti, which opened at Paris's Theatre Michel in 1985 and ran for more than two years. With the requisite cheating husband and wife, the lovers, the confused cook, all exchanging identities and running back and forth from room to room, this bit of formulaic fluff moves more swiftly and packs more chuckles per scene than most of its type.

The cast exhibits the right degree of high intensity panic, with particularly humorous performances by Reno Roop as the wife's lover, Robert, and Jan Neuberger as Suzette, the cook who must pretend to be Robert's lover, niece A everything but the cook. In my opinion, if you've seen one farce of this genre you've seen them all, but if you're still virginal to the form A or just love sex farces A check this out. Your soul won't be enlightened nor your brain wildly stimulated, but you probably won't be bored. And the exquisite country home created by set designer James Tilton is certainly worth viewing.

If the state supports a theater, it stands to reason that the same theater should serve the state. It's the silent mission of both Michael Hall of the Caldwell and Arnold Mittelman of the Coconut Grove Playhouse to nurture local talent, develop new works, and introduce audiences to a wide variety of drama. So far, Michael Hall's trying to live up to that ideal. His actions, especially with regard to hiring locals, set a perfect example for the Grove to follow.

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